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Somerset flood relief may need to go on until 2015

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 29, 2014

floods

Somerset flood relief may have to continue for another year

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The relief operation for flood-hit farmers on the Somerset Levels may have to continue for another year, it was revealed yesterday.

But four months after it started organisers say their ability to cope with flooding is now testing them on an almost daily basis.

The Addington Fund, the farming charity which has been organising shipments of thousands of tons of fodder and bedding from other parts of the country, says it is still struggling to cope.

And at the Royal Bath and West Show fund director Ian Bell gave the starkest warning yet that farmers in the worst-hit areas are going to be reliant on outside help for months to come.

A huge operation to assist farmers was launched in the early spring when floodwater several feet deep was lying across thousands of acres of farmland.

Producers from across the country have donated supplies to Levels producers whose land has been all but ruined after remaining under water for weeks and who face the prospect of taking little few, if any crops off it this summer.

But, said Mr Bell, some farmers had only come forward this week to ask for assistance.

"They have tried every other way they can to hang on but there is this tremendous pride thing about farming – there always has been – and that is what has held them back from asking for help until now," he said.

"We are just more than concerned about the amount of stuff that is still needed.

"Last week we bought down ten artic lorries of straw, silage and hay. This week we have 15 loads of straw we are clearing out of some farms in East Anglia and we forecast we are going to need a minimum of ten loads a week up until the end of September.

"And then we have to take stock again then of what the hell we do for next winter.

"A lot of cattle still aren't turned out because there is nothing to turn them out on to, and I have been talking to some people today who aren't going to get a cut of silage."

Mr Bello warned some farming families were going to face some 'really tough' decisions.

"I have been talking to a farmer today who says he is going to need 2,000 tons of silage just for next winter and with the best will in the world that is beyond our capability. We won't be able to find it," he said.

"The problems are not over by any means. I can see a need for some form of fodder relief until May 2015. We have never come across anything on this scale before."

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